When implementing the HVAC system solution that is best for your operation, planning is essential, as explained by engineers.
There are many factors that cultivators of marijuana consider when implementing HVAC systems for their facilities. These include methods of cultivation and goals, type and design of the facility, and schedules of production.
Here, the president of engineering firm D2E Solutions, Mark Dieser and EIT with engineering firm Enertec Engineering, Graeme Kirkness offer advice in choosing the ideal equipment.
Tips from Graeme Kirkness, EIT, Enertec Engineering
1. Plan with the facility type in your mind.
In setting up their indoor facilities, cultivators make sudden changes that lead to various challenges. These could be maybe because the timelines do not match the equipment’s lead time. Besides, it could also be as a result of designing a space suddenly with equipment on your site or ordered one that does not necessarily offer the best solution for your new space,” said Kirkness.
According to Kirkness, it is essential to evaluate the plant’s ability to release the water used to get nutrients from the soil or vapor pressure deficit (VPD) to help implement the right HVAC system in your space. The VPD is directly affected by variables such as humidity, temperature, and lightning, and HVAC design companies have the ability to control them. This ensures that they are within the required range for optimal growth of the plant.
“You then need to look at how your facility operates in order to maximize the efficiency of the system,” added Kirkness. Usually, a plant grows in a natural environment with sunrise and sunset, which means that indoors a plant is introduced to light slowly and later reduced gradually. With your lighting, you can simulate that using the equipment that slowly allows you to ramp up or ramp down its capacity to match a natural environment. Besides, you can also tailor your equipment to your growing conditions rather than having it run full-tilt throughout.”
2. Place production programs ideal for smaller, more efficient equipment
Usually, larger indoor facilities require more energy to ensure all the spaces remain cool as they have several rooms that operate simultaneously, said Kirkness. “While maintaining your production schedules, you can rely on a single, smaller piece of equipment that runs throughout and operates more efficiently. However, this depends on whether you can schedule your facility in a way that allows you to have a third or half of them operating at a time, and your lighting requirements.”
The ability of the equipment to cool or evaporate the space can be significantly affected by a change of the number of plants in a room, adds Kirkness. “You can add a bigger latent (dehumidification) load by placing more plants into a room as water is freed off their leaves. On the other hand, if the facility has been designed already around a smaller load of plants. Putting extra plants into your room can potentially reach a point where the designed systems and equipment lacks enough latent capacity to pull all the moisture out of the air. However, you are now stranded attempting to modify pieces of certain dehumidification equipment. For instance, to make up the shortfall that has been instituted by adding other plants.”
`Moreover, Kirkness further added that as new companies consolidate, the cultivation facility must adopt new programs of production and techniques of growing that might require new equipment. “This would cause you to be left with design and equipment that does not match a new space. In this case, the fans in your HVAC system might be too small since your mechanical room might have been moved, which means that you need a larger fan. A larger fan means that you need to acquire larger equipment and set up large pieces of your facility.
To solve these issues, Kirkness proposes working with an engineer who recognizes the growing of marijuana and how to heat and cool the space appropriately with the goals of the business in mind.“Working with an engineering firm or an engineer ensures that you easily get a person who is familiar with various kinds of equipment and the suitability of each type of equipment. Besides, they also know how buildup a system that instantly meets your requirements for potential expansion”.
3. Operate with an organization that has experience in marijuana.
It is advisable to involve engineers and HVAC companies that have experience in the industry when it comes to working on cannabis facilities, Kirkness said.
“You profit margins and your bottom line is directly affected by climate control, which means that it is something that you should not ignore,”he says. Therefore, it is important to invest in something that is easy to turn on and operate. It should also be able to provide you with the real-time data, the history, and most importantly, the growing condition to enable you to produce products within the required tolerances.”
Tips from Mark Dieser, President, D2E Solutions
4. Select the equipment that favors your cultivation goals and your design facilities
According to Dieser, finding the equipment for indoors that supports your cultivation goals depends on your facility’s space requirements and also want you to achieve in your grow rooms.
“On the other hand, the size of the mechanical systems or type of equipment is dictated by the conditions that the growers want to achieve, which include relative humidity and temperature, says Dieser. The other big factor that determines the type of equipment is the size of the rooms.
He further added that production rooms require more effort to control heat and moisture since they are more intense environments as compared to standard buildings. With HVAC systems, there is a significant amount of energy per square foot of usage depending on the lighting and the number of plants in a given space, he says.
5. Before the facility is built out, plan the design
Apart from working with HVAC firms and engineers with experience in cannabis cultivation facilities, it is advisable for growers to plan the facility design before it is built out, Dieser says. Therefore, cultivators should decide how their rooms should be set as well as operating procedures and how you would like your facility to operate, he adds.
According to Dieser, some of the production rooms have easy-to-access and spacious tables and plants while others are densely packed which could affect your design requirements as well as how you are trying to achieve the dehumidification and cooling of the space.
The engineers and growers can see more clearly the better picture and decide the kind of climate control equipment that is required to service the space best. This is by organizing the plan of the facility in advance.